I offer you two little spirited poems this Sunday morning in the Poetry Daily. One I wrote yesterday after seeing an item about how fireflies are in danger of going extinct. Now, I realise that species are falling like dominoes leaving holes in the trophic cascade, but this one speaks of one of the innocent delights of my childhood. In late August as the nights drew in and bedtime was still a half hour away, I ran around our yard with a jelly jar trying to capture those phosporescing flies. They were magical. I would watch them glow as I fell asleep. Of course, they never survived the night. On one hand I know that those jam jar chases after them are a thing of the past,one more pastime that is relegated to history. On the other hand I know we must compassionately offer a species some future. But gosh, kids today are missing out on so much fun that was available freely in the outdoors in the childhoods of the 1950s.
As I was waking I seemed to have the words purpose, intent and fingerprints rolling around like pingballs in my consciousness. I wanted to find a quotation that might start a five liner. Justine Willis Toms provides the quotation line that begins the poem that I hope offers a bit more uplift after the elegy for the firefly.
I hope you have a Sunday that nurtures your soul and prepares you to answer the call to your Spirit’s purpose in the week to come.
The beauty of short poem forms is that they fit nicely on a social media graphic. A FBF posted part of an Arthur O’Shaunessy poem yesterday, which gave me the quotation to play with.(Thank you, Amy Bogard, for the inspiration for today’s Poetry Daily. And if readers would like to learn more about this gifted artist, please visit her on http://www.amybogard.com).
While painting and drawing are not in my repertoire of artistic gifts, I do enjoy playing with visuals. Eventually, I would like to collage a Bee’s Word Garden (hat tip to my artist college roomie, Terri Slack Hardwicke for that project title!)
But, to get on with the Poetry Daily! You have the quotation from Arthur O’Shaunessy in the first line. The image comes from an exhibition that took lines from poems in a University of Leeds project from 2017. My creative colleague, Helen Shay, and I carried out a poetry conversation in the Leads to Leeds project curated by Helen Mort. Oli Bentley,in turn, created a steel beam typeface and then took quotations and created an exhibition using lines from our poetry.
Artists collaborate. We pollinate each other like bees to create and create and create. People who make art – whether with words or visuals- have a reputation as solitary, often suffering, souls. We do spend a lot of alone time. But rarely are we working in isolation.
Reading Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness I had a light bulb moment. She writes aboiut the “lonely feeling” and how certain places, as well as social situations, can bring it on. And then I figured out why I hate airport departure lounges so much. I like travel and going places. I love ferries, trains and buses. (I have written journal entries in windy bus shelters waiting for connections.) But airport departure lounges make me feel like I am trapped in a Samuel Beckett play. Anyway, I need to dash. So a senrui for today’s Poetry Daily.
Keeping the poetry practice visual today. Partly because my sinus cavities are stuffed with what feels like wire wool. Partly because I want to play with creating words with images. I am torn between wanting to go back to sleep to recoup the lost hours spent feeling not particularly wonderful and wanting to get on with the tasks that have been left undone while I have been feeling frail, pale and uninteresting this past week. Or I could just stay in bed and read. There are options to be weighed for the day.
So here it is! A micropoem in an infographic format.
May you know your one place that is the every place of belonging.
Quotations, lines of other people’s words, just keep drawing my eye and beguiling my creative life these summer days. Last autumn, when I was was making a concerted effort to try different poetry forms on a daily basis, I stumbled upon the cento. It is a patchwork poem made up from lines of verse from other poets. You can find my initial effort at https://sojourningsmith.blog/2018/11/07/cento-on-hope/.
But it is not just limited to poetry. It is a literary collage. (I loved collaging as a kid and did many for extra credit as a 7th and 8th grader. We didn’t call them vision boards back in the day. It was play with words and image, jumbled together, contrapuntal, onto poster board. Collage is still one of my favourite activities for relaxation and/or inspiration.)
So the cento is a collage poem. Or patchwork poem.
Opiod of the People
I will be living with chronic pain for the rest of my life. Owning our story can be hard... being afraid to ever be happy again. People have begun to believe in God again.
It's impossible to get at the truth without pain. (Not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.) Ask their forgiveness for the fact bcause there is no other hope.
The persons who lent their voices to this patchwork, or collage, poem are: Brené Brown, Sonya Huber, Svetlana Alexeivich, and Caroline Moorehead. It’s a different kind of exercise doing this mash up of disparate voices speaking about the opioid crisis, the Soviet Union and ex-Soviet Union, and vulnerability.
High summer may seem like an odd time to be thinking of St.Brigit, whose feast is after all on frosty 1st February. But since she took over the mantle of the Celtic goddess Brighid, she is a saint for all seasons and many eventualities. The main folklore about her involves her cloak, or mantle, which miraculously expanded to the point where she had enough good land from the King of Leinster to build her monastery in Kildare. The Poetry Daily poem references that piece of folklore.
On days the world is just too full of holes in the universe threatening to open like the polar ice caps I plain knit woolen squares.
I'm knitting a blanket as large as St. Brigit's mantle that got her enough to build her sanctuary. She did it large. She could share.
I'll knit the largest sofa throw, large enough to cover the whole globe, invite everyone to find their square, secret names encoded in yarn.
Some are menders. Some are weavers. Some have a talent for making holes. But we all need Brigit's blanket. She won't leave a soul out in the cold.
That’s Margaret Fuller, a woman who packed more into her scant forty years than most of us will do in two lifetimes. She was a journalist, poet, feminist and activist. She was the female figurehead of the American Transcendentalist philosophical movement in the early 19th century. A popular notion is that she was the model for the vivid character of Zenobia in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Blithedale Romance. The Poetry Daily dips into some of her wise words for some Monday Motivation. And a bit of courage.
The quotation I found is so relevent to current events. But she wrote it in 1844. Public evil that seems unconquerable and justice elusive is not a new story. Racial and gender injustice may not be written into many history books, but the struggle to achieve justice is the universal human story. Fuller had no vote. A woman was the chattel of her husband. Fuller married late and very, very choosily. Slavery was rife and Free People of Color were being impressed back into slavery after the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision in 1857. Injustice was very much part of the world Margaret Fuller inhabited. But it was also an energetic world of a new nation defining its identity. Fuller was part of a cultural context that took words, and the sentiments that loaded them, very seriously. A civil war was simmering in the USA. It would erupt ten years after Fuller drowned in a shopwreck with her husband and child of Fire Island. Tumultuous times. Nonetheless, she persisted in raising her voice and being heard.
Might a sense of the true aims of life elevate the tone of politics and trade, till public and private honor become identical.
Summer on the Lakes, in 1843 Margaret Fuller
"Till public and private honor become identical..." Let past sins forgiven not be forgotten history. Upholding your shiny ideals is not so abnormal. Each generation must repeat doing so actively. Defining the true aims of life makes us incorruptible